SeaChange Pharmaceuticals, a UCSF spinoff, had a hand in developing the computer models in use at Novartis to predict drug safety. In fact, the company has championed the study of side-effect profiles of known drugs to discover new uses for those approved compounds, too. Drugs often impact genes unintentionally, causing side effects in some cases but treating serious medical conditions in others. The latter could aid drug developers in repurposing drugs, also known as drug recycling.
More recently, Stanford University scientists led by Dr. Atul Butte showed how their algorithms applied to large public databases of gene and drug information identified brand new uses for aging meds. Butte is one of the founders of a startup called NuMedii, which has applied the Stanford technology and harnesses huge amounts of molecular data to find new uses for old drugs. National Institutes of Health chief Francis Collins has endorsed such approaches, which offer a way to rapidly bring new (and affordable) treatments to patients using drugs with known safety profiles.